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The corpses

Volunteer helps pull corpses from streets

A body wrapped in a sheet lies in the street in Port-au-Prince.
A body wrapped in a sheet lies in the street in Port-au-Prince. (Carol Guzy/the Washington Post)

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Port-au-Prince is filled with the dead, but there are no funerals, because there are few churches standing and no coffins for sale, but mostly because there is no time.

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The sweltering city is filling with bodies, and Stanley Laurore decided he could help. The former U.S. soldier volunteered to ride in an open truck and collect corpses. He is working, unpaid, for a Haitian police officer who has a radio that crackles with news of grisly discoveries.

"I think it must be thousands. We go. We pick them from the street. We come back and leave them. There are many more," Laurore said.

There are hundreds of bodies stacked in the parking area by the morgue. More are inside, but it is almost impossible to enter without breathing equipment. Family members who approach stumble forward, stop and retch.

The need to move the bodies is so great that the government took to the streets Friday with dump trucks and bulldozers.

As a Caterpillar front loader went slowly down the street scooping up corpses, people heard the noise and brought their dead to the curb. Wrapped in a spattered sheet, Rene Morancy was lifted by his neighbors to the sidewalk. The Caterpillar dropped its bucket. Two workers lifted the corpse and tipped it into the dump truck, as Morancy's wife watched.

-- William Booth


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